Rumour Has It: Man Utd job priority for Conte, Serie A duo eye Vlahovic

By Sports Desk October 25, 2021

What does the future hold for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?

His position as Manchester United manager is becoming more uncertain after an embarrassing loss to Liverpool.

A former Premier League-winning boss, Antonio Conte, is believed to be waiting in the wings.

 

TOP STORY – CONTE EYEING UNITED ROLE?

The Manchester United job would be a priority for Antonio Conte should the Red Devils part with embattled manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Sportitalia journalist Gianluigi Longari.

Solskjaer is facing fierce criticism following Sunday's humiliating 5-0 defeat to Premier League rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Former Inter and Chelsea boss Conte has been linked with Newcastle United following talk of a pre-season move to Tottenham, while the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino could reportedly be considered for the United role.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is in talks with Manchester City, Tottenham and Juventus, per Gianluca Di Marzio. The Germany international is available on a free transfer at season's end amid reported interest from Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Marcelo wants to leave Madrid for Fluminense in 2022, claims El Nacional. Marcelo is out of contract at the end of the season.

- El Nacional says Barcelona have decided to sell United States international Sergino Dest. The 20-year-old has struggled for form at Camp Nou and he has been linked with Bayern.

Inter and Juve both identified Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic and Sampdoria's Mikkel Damsgaard, per Calciomercato. Vlahovic has also been linked with City, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Arsenal.

- Calciomercato claims Serie A high-flyers Milan are eyeing Brest midfielder Romain Faivre.

 

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    Francesco Totti leapt to the defence of under-fire Roma head coach Jose Mourinho by saying the Giallorossi do not have any world-class players, while calling for time for the Portuguese to overhaul the Serie A side.

    Mourinho – who arrived in the Italian capital at the start of the season – has cut a frustrated figure amid Roma's run of just three wins in nine Serie A matches.

    After a 3-0 loss to Inter on Saturday condemned Roma to back-to-back losses, Mourinho snapped at a journalist and refused to answer his question in a media conference, having cancelled his pre-match news conference.

    Mourinho has also been critical of recruitment, the former Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter boss determined to bolster his Roma squad in January.

    As pressure mounts with Roma sitting seventh in the standings and nine points adrift of the Champions League places, club great Totti showed his support for Mourinho.

    "To win you need the [right] players," said Totti, who is Roma's all-time leading appearance maker and scorer. "To win it takes an important manager. It takes a club that makes you feel at home at every level of your employment here.

    "They have to be always available for everyone here but the most important thing, as we all know, if you want to win you need the players. It is a necessity, the foundation [of victory].

    "I don't want to disrespect our current squad now, because it is an important squad with important players. But there are no 'champions' [world class players], and this is plain to see. Only good players who can do well in a certain context."

    Roma have not won the Scudetto since 2001, while not since 2008 have they claimed silverware.

    Mourinho's Roma have lost seven of their first 16 Serie A games for the first time since 2008-09.

    Totti – who spent the entirety of his professional career at Roma, making 786 appearances in all competitions, scoring 307 goals and winning one Serie A title – added: "When we talk about Roma, I feel huge emotions.

    "As a fan, I can say we are not in a great period but 'if you are not Roma, you don't suffer', this is our motto as we say and I guess we are used to it, to these topsy-turvy seasons.

    "But I am sure the board and the gaffer [Mourinho] want to put back a smile on us fans' faces. A city like Rome deserves respect and most luminous stages than what we are watching now.

    "Give them time... but not too long and hope we can see Roma back to shine at international level."

  • PSG boss Pochettino not unsettled by Man Utd rumours PSG boss Pochettino not unsettled by Man Utd rumours

    Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino said he is not settled by ongoing Manchester United rumours.

    Pochettino has been heavily linked with Premier League giants United, who are eyeing a long-term manager following the interim appointment of Ralf Rangnick until the end of the season.

    Reports have claimed Pochettino is interested in returning to England, where he previously guided Tottenham to the 2019 Champions League final, having also worked for Southampton.

    Ligue 1 leaders PSG have been criticised for their performances this season following a 1-1 draw at Lens, while speculation has claimed Lionel Messi has grown unhappy with Pochettino's approach.

    But as PSG prepare for Tuesday's Champions League fixture with Club Brugge, Pochettino insisted he is calm in the mist of the rumours.

    "I feel good," Pochettino said during his pre-game news conference. "And I feel calmer because I have the backing of my players, I have the backing from the club which knows what we are trying to do.

    "We are part of a growth process. There are two things growing, one is visible, which is the team's style of play. And the tactics, and communications, and links within the playing style. And then there is those links in the dressing room, and our day-to-day experience, and that takes time.

    "Both things need to improve at the same time, and with the right balance. There is an internal process going on in terms of settling in, and the players getting to know one another. We have built a solid group that is battling for the same target, and everyone wants to be a part of the group. That way, everyone can give as much as they can in order to achieve targets. That is the process we are part of.

    "There are highs and lows. And we need to do better in terms of our play. We need to develop our ideas more, and have that flexibility that teams need to face the obstacles posed by the opposition. That is what we are going through. Based on that, I feel calm.

    "This is Paris Saint Germain, and I understand that. It is a shining light so that having qualified in the Champions League, and with an 11-point lead in the league, there are still things that aren't going well, and I agree that we have to do better in many areas.

    "As for the noise surrounding the club, that is what you get when you are at a club like Paris Saint Germain. We have the coaching staff and players who know what they want and what we are working on here, so nobody will take us away from our beliefs. We are clear about our ideas and we respect everything around us. But we continue down our path."

    Messi could become just the third player – after George Weah in 1994 and Neymar in 2017 – to score in his first three consecutive home games for PSG in the Champions League.

    Kylian Mbappe has five goal involvements in three matches against Brugge – his joint-most against a single opponent in the competition, along with Red Star Belgrade and Istanbul Basaksehir.

    Since the start of the 2012-13 season, PSG have only been beaten once in 29 home games in the Champions League group stage (W23 D5) – 2-1 against United in October 2020. The French side have scored 79 goals across these fixtures, at an average of 2.7 per game.

  • Napoli's Insigne offer unacceptable but renewal still possible – agent Napoli's Insigne offer unacceptable but renewal still possible – agent

    Lorenzo Insigne's agent Vincenzo Pisacane said Napoli's contract offer for their star captain was not "acceptable" nor "appropriate", though he insisted it is not too late to sign a renewal.

    Insigne, who emerged from the youth team of boyhood club Napoli in 2010, is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.

    Negotiations over a new deal have proved fruitless so far amid reported interest from Serie A rivals Inter and Milan as well as La Liga giants Barcelona and Premier League quartet Tottenham, West Ham, Arsenal and Newcastle United.

    Pisacane was asked about Insigne's future at Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

    "An offer has been made that is not considered acceptable, not considered appropriate," Pisacane told Canale 21. "But it doesn't mean we don't talk to each other anymore.

    "Everyone plays their part, there are those who ask questions and those who request. The best thing is to talk to each other.

    "I have read several times that Lorenzo has asked for the moon, but no request has ever been made. He feels Napoli as part of him, he perhaps holds Napoli excessively close. I struggle to find a player more attached to the shirt."

    Insigne – a Euro 2020 winner with Italy – has continued to perform for Napoli, playing a key role in the team's strong start to 2021-22.

    He has scored four goals and supplied five assists in Serie A this term as Napoli sit third in the standings, two points behind leaders Milan.

    The 30-year-old ranks third for xG per 90 minutes (0.76) in Serie A, while he is also third for assists per 90 minutes (0.43).

    Only Milan's Rafael Leao (21) has managed more shot-ending carries than Insigne (17) this season.

    On the chances of Insigne remaining at Napoli, Pisacane added: "I can't give a percentage, I just can't. Marriages are made in two, therefore I think it's right to meet again, to talk about it and see if there's a possibility or not.

    "I find it strange that we are in December, it's not too late but if I want something and I want to get it, I start working on it.

    "Lorenzo has been a top player in the same team for many years and he always finds incentives to do better. I think it's very difficult to find a symbol like him. I think Lorenzo deserved a little more time."

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